Staying safe in the heat–it’s something we all need to know how to do when living in San Antonio and surrounding areas like Kyle, New Braunfels, and Seguin. Excessive heat exposure can cause serious health effects. Now is the time to prepare and take care of yourself, your pets, and your neighbors.
Fortunately, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the Office of Emergency Management, Bexar County, and the National Weather Service have developed a Heat Plan.
Here are important tips:
- Check local weather for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Never leave anyone alone in closed vehicles.
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals.
- Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dark-colored clothing absorbs the sun’s rays, dressed in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
- Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid demanding physical activities during the warmest part of the day.
- Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities.
Here is a list of resources and why you may need them:
City Public Service (CPS)
Customer Service Line 210-353-2222
Financial assistance with utility bills
Bexar County Dept. of Community Resources
Utility Assistance Energy Crisis Program
San Antonio Water System (SAWS)
Financial planning assistance with water bills
City of San Antonio Center for Working Families
Humane Society San Antonio
Tips for your pets
City of San Antonio Animal Care Services
4710 State Highway 151, San Antonio, 78227
Tips for your pets
City of San Antonio 311
Report Animal Cruelty
City of San Antonio Dept. of Human Services
106 S. St. Mary’s, 7th Floor
San Antonio, TX 78205
Information on Senior Services
211 Texas/United Way Helpline
Request a portable fan, PROJECT COOL
Alamo Service Connection
Bexar Area Agency on Aging 210-477-3275
Cool Neighbor Campaign-Door Hanger and Thermometer explaining heat-related signs and symptoms. Information and referrals for seniors over age 60 for utility assistance and home weatherization programs
The plan includes four levels of heat conditions:
- Level 4: Normal weather conditions.
- Level 3: A “Heat Outlook” alert goes into effect when the heat index is 90ºF — 108ºF for two consecutive days.
- Level 2: A “Heat Advisory” alert is when the daytime heat index is greater than 108ºF.
- Level 1: An “Excessive Heat Warning” is issued when the heat index reaches 113ºF or higher.
How this can impact your health and what to do:
According to weather.gov, extremely hot and humid weather, hinders the body’s ability to cool itself. When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, body temperature rises and you or someone you care about may experience a heat-related illness. It is important to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a list of warning signs and symptoms of heat illness, and recommended first aid steps. Some of these symptoms and steps are listed below.
Heat cramps may be the first sign of heat-related illness, and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.
Symptoms: Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen and Heavy sweating.
First Aid: Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water.
Seek immediate medical attention if cramps last longer than 1 hour.
Symptoms: Heavy sweating, Weakness or tiredness, cool, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache, fainting,
First Aid: Move a person to a cooler environment, preferably a well air conditioned room. Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet clothes or have a person sit in a cool bath. Offer sips of water. If a person vomits more than once.
Seek immediate medical attention if the person vomits, symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour.
Symptoms: Throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, body temperature above 103°F, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, loss of consciousness.
First Aid: Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Delay can be fatal. Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment. Reduce body temperature with cool clothes or baths. Use a fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures. Do NOT give fluids. Using a fan to blow air in someone’s direction may actually make them hotter if heat index temperatures are above the 90s.
For more information on all of these heat-related illnesses, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site.
Need a list of the City’s cooling sites and where to find them? The city has put together an interactive map of all things cool. Think pools, cooling centers, libraries, and community centers.
Shafer has a list of summer A/C tips to help you stay cool and keep your home running efficiently.